Perfumer, Entrepreneur, Director of CKC Fragrances, President of the Fragrances and Flavours Association of India        [FAFAI], Incoming President of MCCI, Member of the National MSME Board, Ministry of MSME, Government of India, Heartfulness Meditation Trainer, Public Speaker and Writer, Rishabh Kothari dons very many hats and effortlessly manages and transcends from each of these roles with an uncommon ease.
In a freewheeling conversation with HPCI, he speaks about the current scenario with the Fragrances and Flavours Industry in India, how the pandemic has impacted it and his vision of the future of the Industry in India and globally.

The last 18 months of our lives have perhaps been as no other in all our lives. Could you tell us how they have treated you and people of your industry?
Thank you for inviting me for this interview. Whether it is our economy, our geographical integrity, or simply the preservation of human life, the last 18 months have been extremely challenging for our nation. This situation has challenged our resilience as a civilisation and it is in throes of such adversity that opportunity emerges for us.

It is now almost a year and a half since you became the President of FAFAI and your tenure has been most eventful. You have hosted several events and even the pandemic has not deterred you, as you moved events seamlessly from physical to online. What has been your experience as FAFAI President and what are the future plans of FAFAI.
Thank you for your very kind words. I can never emphasise enough that the credit for all that we have been able to achieve so far lies with very many people. It lies with all my predecessors, all the Past Presidents and their Committee members who established a strong foundation for the Association.
The credit lies with the unwavering contribution and support that I have received from all my office bearers, all the members of the Managing Committee, members of the FAFAI Secretariat who have behind the scenes supported me in very effort and endeavours. And finally, nothing is ever possible without the support, interest and active participation of all our members, which we are fortunate to have received in abundance, and for which we are ever grateful. So while the President may be what you can call the ‘public face’ of the Association, all the credit and achievement is not of one man alone.

When our Managing Committee took over, we had several plans and programmes in mind and have ever since made efforts to work in that direction. India is a large country and we have our membership spread over in just about every nook and corner of the country. Therefore to facilitate greater member participation, we wanted to take FAFAI Workshops, programmes and events to every part of the country where our members are. We started this programmes in Indore, Kannauj and Kanpur last year. We had firmed up plans of conducting events in Nagpur, Bengaluru, Cochin, Jaipur, Ahmedabad and Ankaleshwar but they had to be put on hold because of the pandemic. However the ball has been set rolling and we shall resume whenever the situation becomes conducive.

You also published what is the 1st Positive List of Ingredients used in the Fragrance and Flavour Industry. Tell us more about it.
The Fragrance and Flavour Industry has always been cognizant of consumer preferences and their safety has always been paramount in whatever we do. With people worldwide getting more and more conscious of the products they consume, the interest of consumers, as well as the need for transparency and clarity, motivated us to compile and publish the Positive List of Ingredients used and generally considered safe for Fragrances and Flavours.

This compilation is based on inputs from all the Fragrance and Flavour Manufacturers of India and lists all the ingredients that they use and can be an authoritative guide of all ingredients being used in India. We were also grateful to receive words of praise and encouragement from our Honourable Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi ji for this publication.

One would not imagine that an event related to Fragrances and Flavours, which is all about sensory experience could be organised virtually. Yet you organised the Virtual Bazaar. Tell us about your experience in hosting the event.
Well, every challenge is also an opportunity !!! You are right that Fragrances and Flavours are related to the senses, so obviously we were apprehensive, but as I have mentioned earlier, one of our aims has been to facilitate greater member participation and make our programmes and events accessible to our members in every part of the country. I am happy to inform you that while our regular biennial Seminar has around 1,500 delegates, registrations for the Virtual Bazaar crossed 4,000 !!!

The overwhelming response to the event was indeed a matter of great pride and satisfaction for us.

That is fantastic. However, things seem to be opening up now. What are your future plans?
As far as future plans are concerned, as I mentioned earlier, safety, whether it is of our consumers or our members, is of paramount importance to us.
Therefore, as long as the situation is not totally conducive, while we have several plans, we shall continue to try and implement whatever we can through online and digital means which also makes the event more accessible to a larger number of people.

Having said that, we are planning to start with some in-person events as well and if everything goes well, the biennial FAFAI Seminar, which will be having its Silver Jubilee Edition, will take place in 2023.

What does the crystal ball tell you about the near and long term future for the Fragrance and Flavours Industry, especially in the post-covid era.
Well, Covid has affected all of us in more ways than one can imagine. It has also impacted the way in which we perceive and consume products and the Fragrance and Flavour Industry is a reflection of these changing consumer behaviours and patterns.

The Industry has been grappling with challenges related to supply, logistics and pricing of both natural and synthetic raw materials which I feel will continue for some time as industries across the world adapt to the new normal.

While there may be temporal blips, the per capita consumption of Fragrances and Flavours are likely to see a continued upward momentum and it is for each player to seize the opportunity and benefit from it.

Thank you for the very positive reinforcement. Before we end, tell us more about things at your personal front.
Like everyone else, we have also learnt to live as well as thrive in this new normal.

We at CKC Fragrances recently moved to new and much larger production facility. This move has not only substantially added to our production output, but has also enhanced our Research and Development capabilities. Therefore, as I had mentioned earlier, every challenge is also an opportunity, and at CKC Fragrances we have successfully created opportunities for ourselves as well as our consumers during this period.

Fragrances, as a product, despite miniscule dosages, add enormous value to the end product. At CKC Fragrances it is our constant endeavour to add value and create value for our customers and ultimately their consumers. The key ingredient in this quest for value has been innovation, whether in terms of the fragrance palette we produce, the choice of ingredients we use or the target pricing we are able to offer, we strive to innovate and create value for our customers.

It is this innovation, coupled with a sincere and personalised approach, where our customers are our partners, and we in theirs, and equal stakeholders in the success or failure of any product, which has been the hallmark of CKC Fragrances and the secret of its success. In our organisation, the customer is placed at the centre of every endeavour and every process and the sole reason for the organisation to exist. My father Mr. Chandrakant Kothari, the founder of our organisation has always put relationships above everything else, and this approach has led our customers to become our friends first and our co-partners in our mutual success.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and views and we wish you, FAFAI and CKC Fragrances all the very best in all your endeavours!